Jerry Falwell, Jr. became chancellor and president of Liberty University in May 2007 just after the passing of his father, Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr.
Since he accepted the position, Liberty has seen substantial growth in enrollment and endowment funding and is in the midst of a $400 million campus transformation.
Falwell was born on Father’s Day, June 17, 1962, in Lynchburg, Va. He attended Liberty Christian Academy and Liberty University, graduating in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1987 and was licensed to practice law the same year.
Falwell married Becki Tilley of Chapel Hill, N.C. in 1987. They have three children: Jerry Falwell, III (Trey), age 23, Charles Wesley, age 19, and Caroline Grace, age 12, and have lived on their farm in Bedford County, Va. since 1987. The chancellor and Becki have made themselves accessible to students and have worked to create a family atmosphere for students at Liberty. The couple hosts about 1,000 students at their home every year for the Senior Picnic.
Falwell began practicing law in Lynchburg in 1987, and served as general counsel of Liberty and other related organizations from 1988-2007. During those years, Falwell also played a key role in the development of real estate in the vicinity of Liberty University. His companies were successful in the recruitment of many national retail and restaurant chains to the area, greatly enriching the lifestyle of the Lynchburg community.
In 1988, Falwell and his father began working closely together in the management and oversight of the university as well as all related ministries. Over time, Falwell assumed from his father more of the responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the university. In 2003 he was named Vice Chancellor by the Liberty University Board of Trustees.
Since Falwell became president of the university, enrollment has increased from 9,600 to more than 12,500 residential students and from 27,000 to more than 80,000 online students. Liberty’s net assets increased from approximately $100 million in 2007 to over $1 billion in 2012 as a result of increasing support from donors, responsible fiscal management and almost unprecedented enrollment growth. Liberty has remained among the most affordable of all private universities in the nation and continues to award over $100 million of institutional aid to its students each year.
Falwell is instrumental in the planning and construction of improvements on campus.
“All of these buildings and programs are ultimately and primarily about building lives – the lives of our students and the lives of those they will impact,” Chancellor Falwell has repeated many times. Under his leadership, the university is constantly monitoring job market trends, evaluating and adapting its programs accordingly, so that Liberty students have the tools they need to remain prepared for the future.
This year alone, Liberty has added almost 30 new academic programs in response to job market trends and students’ expressed needs, taking the total count to more than 270 programs of study currently offered.
The classroom is not the only arena where the chancellor’s leadership is pushing Liberty to new levels. In 2012, he announced the football program’s readiness for a move into the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which would have it competing at the top level of NCAA Division I football.
Since Falwell became chancellor and president, Liberty has grown to become the largest private nonprofit, four-year college in the country, the nation’s seventh largest university, and the largest college in Virginia. With students from all 50 states and 95 different countries, Liberty is flourishing on the international stage and influencing America through its alumni.
One of Chancellor Falwell’s priorities at Liberty has been to keep the university true to its roots and its Christian mission. He has implemented policies to ensure that the university does not follow the lead of so many American universities that were founded with Christian missions very similar to Liberty’s, but later changed their missions as they achieved academic, athletic, and financial prominence as institutions.
Wall Street investors have taken notice of the school's financial standing and Liberty has received strong credit ratings from Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service, placing them among the nation's highest-rated universities for financial strength. The school recently topped $1 billion in net assets, making it the youngest nonprofit university in American history to reach this milestone. “I believe that if Liberty continues to be good a steward of the resources God has provided us, the resulting financial strength will give us the ability to resist pressures to change our doctrinal statement and other unique values core to our mission.”
His goal is for the university to fulfill his father’s vision – to attain academic excellence and athletic prominence as a world-class university whose graduates will impact the world for the Gospel of Christ, fully equipped for careers in every profession.
Falwell is a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and was named as the 2006 Business Person of the Year for Western Virginia by the Blue Ridge Business Journal. He serves on the board of the Bedford County Public Service Authority and was recently appointed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to the Governor’s Commission for Higher Education Investment and Innovation. Falwell enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and riding ATVs with his family.